Can You Really Learn a Foreign Language Through Film?

It would seem almost like a no-brainer really, why pick up a study book and spend hours learning words and phrases when you can just watch people on a screen speak the language, and learn in the same way? After all, isn’t that how we are taught our native language?

Not quite! While it may sound like a lot more fun to be watching movies rather than burying your head in a book, it is always a good idea to introduce various learning methods into your routine to get a more well-rounded understanding and practice of a language. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and limitations of using television to learn a foreign language.

Firstly, it’s great to hear how native speakers of a language really speak (as opposed to reading about it). Watching foreign television introduces you to the different sounds, tones and the speed of a language, helping you to practice your pronunciation. You can also place phrases in context just by picking up other clues, such as body language and facial expression, to determine their verbal expressions. You might notice the more common words appear often, and this repetition of sound can help your memory for those words. Additionally, you can pick up on current slang, which is informal language that textbooks might not necessarily teach you. Finally, watching movies are fun, especially if you are a visual learner, and thus much more motivating when it comes to learning another language.

However, attempting to pick up a new language without the facilitation of other resources poses its challenges. Films are very rarely ever made for second-language speakers, so the level of language being spoken is likely to be very high, creating difficulties for a beginner to understand. Given this, it often becomes difficult to always follow along with what the characters are saying. This might be alleviated by putting on the subtitles, but then that shifts your focus to reading and watching at the same time, rather than being immersed in what is being said. Watching a movie is also very different from interacting with a native speaker from the language, as the experience is passive and doesn’t give you the opportunity to practice the language as you go. Finally, to be absolutely honest, movies were made for the sake of entertainment – long entertainment, and to be watching one continuously without letting continuous plot twists distract you from your original goal, can make the whole language-learning process rather inefficient.

That isn’t to say movies aren’t beneficial to your language practice. Aided with the right kind of study, they can provide invaluable aid, so ensure you take up several techniques to polish your foreign language skills. Find the right textbooks and online resources and practice your basics, then seek out foreign movies and shows to watch. Be aware that these are not always easy to access, so make sure you have the know-how. For example, if you are practicing Danish, you will need to know se dansk tv iudlandet gratis, as danskfjernsyniudlandet is often limited, as it is with other languages. Finally, round up your skills by practicing with other speakers, whether through a language club or by jumping right into conversations with native speakers. Good luck!